Areca rheophytica

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Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
rheophytica (reh-oh-fih-TEE-kah)
Scientific Classification
Genus: Areca (ah-REHK-ah)
rheophytica (reh-oh-fih-TEE-kah)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Areca rheophytica is an undergrowth palm that, as the name states, is clearly a rheophyte plant
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Pattaya, Thailand. Photo by Dr. Scott Zona.
(aquatic plant that lives in fast moving water currents, such as in a stream or river, in an environment where few other organisms can survive) that grows in river banks on ultrabasic rocks. (

Borneo. Growing as a rheophyte on the banks of fast-flowing rivers and streams in areas of ultrabasic rock, in the lowlands and up to about 400 m above sea level. (J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984)/Palmweb.


Areca rheophytica is a small but most elegant solitary palm with arched feather like fronds. Stems: Finger-like glabrous, pale brown up to 2 m tall and 1-1.5 (-2) cm in diameter. With inconspicuous nodal scars about 3-5 mm hight, internodes 2-4 cm apart.

Crownshaft: 20-30 cm tall, 2-4 cm wide, enlarged and green. Crown: With 7-8 leaves.

Leaves.. Up to to 60 cm long, petiole short about 8-15 cm long, pinnae (leaflets) 12-22 regularly arranged on each side of the rachis, single ribbed, very close, dark green. Sheaths usually less than 25 cm, smooth when fresh, drying ridged.

Inflorescence: Erect usually less than 22 cm, The rachillae (flower-bearing branches) slender, very numerous,up to 120 mm long and 1 mm in diameter. Flowers grouped in one to several basal triad, otherwise bearing paired staminate flowers in a single row on one side. Staminate flower (male) creamy-white, lemon-scented; Pistillate flower (female) at anthesis about 11 x 3 mm tipped with 3 short stigmas.

Fruit: Narrow-ellipsoidal, approx 20 x 7 mm, pale green turning bright-red at maturity, mesocarp about 2-5 mm thick. Seed: Spindle-like approx 15 x 5 mm. (


Comments and Curiosities

Remarks: Only a few palms have been described as rheophytes, among them Pinanga rivularis and Pinanga tenella from Borneo, Chamaedorea cataractarum from Mexico, Geonoma linearis from Colombia and Ecuador, Dypsis crinita and Ravenea musicalis both from Madagascar. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

J. Dransfield, The genus Areca (Palmae: Arecoideae) in Borneo. 1984

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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